Where Entrepreneurship STARTS in High School



TALENT is an extra-curricular inquiry learning program helping Illinois high school students get new business ventures off the ground. The CoolHub.IMSA project space is used to promote events, encourage collaboration and communication with IMSA alumni, entrepreneurs and investors. Much of the prototyping work takes place outside CoolHub.IMSA in workshops, labs and focus groups.

Want to participate in TALENT online studies and events?

Monday Night Live Events

Join the TALENT Facebook Group

Play Ventures to Vultures

stage four protoype


Watch here for the Spring Internship Open House on an I.Day at 1871.


Questions every intern needs to answer:

What you did and for what company. Specific assignments and outcomes.
What you learned about being in a start up.
How you applied skills learned in school (assuming that happened).
What you needed to learn and how you did that.
Where you think this experience will lead you.
TALENT is an extracurricular program in entrepreneurship that offers a variety of opportunities for learning. Depending on whether you can only participate online or also in person, here are some choices:
Monday Night Live - Most Mondays during the school year from 8 - 9 pm at the IMSA campus and about half the sessions are streamed. Guests, group problem solving on topics of interest to start ups. First streamed session may be August 31.
TALENT Online - Self-paced learning modules on entrepreneurship: Lean Startup, Design Thinking, Business Model Canvas and Pitching is what we have now. You can complete these on your own with the help of online mentors.
Power Pitch - Annual competition for pitching business ideas to investors. Cash prizes. Usually held in April--date yet to be determined. Registration deadline is the end of January.
Summer Internships - Work for start ups at 1871 and around Chicago.
School Year Internships - Same as above but requires taking off one day a week to intern (usually for seniors).
Mentorships - If you have an idea for a business that needs assistance, a mentor may be assigned to advise you.

Quick Links




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America’s Next Top Energy Innovator


Office of Public Affairs


News Media Contact: (202) 586-4940
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2011


Department of Energy Launches “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” 
Cuts Upfront Patent Licensing Costs and Challenges entrepreneurs to Commercialize Technologies from the National Laboratories
Boston, MA – As part of the Obama Administration’s Startup America Initiative, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge, which will give start-up companies the opportunity to license groundbreaking technologies developed by the National Laboratories for $1,000 and build successful businesses.  As part of this effort, the Department is reducing both the cost and paperwork requirements for start-up companies to obtain an option agreement to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by our 17 National Laboratories.


“America’s entrepreneurs and innovators are the best in the world,” said Secretary Chu.  “Today, we’re challenging them to create new businesses based on discoveries made by our world-leading national laboratories.  Because we’ve cut the upfront fees and reduced the paperwork, we’ll make it easier for start-up companies to succeed and create the new jobs our economy needs.  Our goal is simple: unleash America’s innovation machine and win the global race for the clean energy jobs of the future.” 


Currently, only about 10 percent of federal patents have been licensed to be commercialized.  This initiative aims to double the number of startup companies coming out of the National Laboratories. 


Specifically, as part of “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator:”


1)      On Monday, May 2, 2011, the Department will kick off the challenge by posting a streamlined template option agreement online for entrepreneurs to submit to Laboratories.  Entrepreneurs must identify the technology of interest and submit a business plan to be considered for the program.   Participants will have until December 15 to make their submission to the Laboratory. 


2)      Any of the 15,000 unlicensed patents and patent applications held by the National Laboratories will be available for licensing by startup companies


3)      From May 2 to December 15, the Department will reduce the total upfront cost of licensing DOE patents in a specific technology to a $1,000 upfront fee for portfolios of up to three patents.  This represents a savings of $10,000 to $50,000 on average in upfront fees.


4)      Other license terms, such as equity and royalties, will be negotiated on a case by case basis and will typically be due once the company grows and achieves widescale commercial success.  These fees help support the Department’s continuing research activities to develop new technologies.


5)      The Department will simplify the licensing process and establish a standard set of terms for start-ups, who generally lack the resources, time or expertise to negotiate individual licensing agreements.  This will significantly reduce both the time and cost required to process the license, allowing faster access to the Department’s patents and enabling the Department to process more licenses in a shorter amount of time. 


6)      Entrepreneurs who complete the process and demonstrate progress toward executing their business plan and commercializing the technology will have the opportunity to be showcased at the 3rd Annual ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit in 2012, which brings together leading technology startups and clean energy investors from around the country.


In addition to these steps, the Department is making it easier for companies to use the world-leading facilities at our National Laboratories to conduct collaborative research and development activities.  Previously, companies had to make an upfront payment covering the first 90 days of research work – a requirement that was often difficult for start-ups to meet.  Today, the Department is lowering the advance payment requirement to 60 days.  This change will benefit all companies – not just start-ups – but could be valuable for those participating in the “America’s Next Top Energy Innovator” challenge.


Entrepreneurs interested in participating can already view the available technologies on the Department’s online Energy Innovation Portal.


Some of the promising innovations currently available for licensing and featured on the portal include:


  • Solar Energy Storage, Transportation and Conversion - available from DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a system for converting solar energy to chemical energy and, subsequently, to thermal energy. The system includes a light-harvesting station, a storage station, and a thermal energy release station that enables transportation of stored energy over long distances.
    Marketing Summary


  • Grid Friendly Appliance Controller - available from DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    The Grid Friendly Appliance controller senses grid conditions by monitoring system frequency and provides automatic demand response in times of disruption. This simple computer chip can be installed in household appliances and can turn them off for a few minutes or even a few seconds to allow the grid to stabilize and prevent blackouts.  
    Marketing Summary


  • Growth of Lattice Matched III-V Semiconductor Materials - available from DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory
    High-performance semiconductor materials have a broad range of potential applications, including high efficiency solar cells, solid-state lighting, and high-speed transistors. This portfolio allows for the use of low-cost, scalable, and reusable substrates to dramatically reduce production costs for these materials.
    Marketing Summary
  • New Catalyst Can Reduce Nitrogen Oxide Emissions From Diesel Engines by 80–85% - available from DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory
The diesel DeNOx catalyst removes 80–85% of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel fuel combustion by converting NOx to nitrogen. With its lower expected manufacturing and installation costs, ease of use, and significant market potential, the Argonne catalyst is positioned to deliver the environmental—and economical—benefits needed to reduce our global industrial “footprint.”


Some recent examples of established companies and start-ups that have commercialized Department of Energy technologies are available online


 “Startup America” is an important element of the Administration’s national innovation strategy.  For more information about the steps announced today and the more than 15,000 technology opportunities currently available, visit the Department’s online Energy Innovation Portal.

Power Pitch Winners

Eighteen TALENT students pitched new business ideas to a panel of investors and experienced entrepreneurs last night at IMSA's third annual POWER PITCH contest.Power Pitch First Place Winners and Judges


First place winners Michael Kobiela and Brent Noesges won $3,000 for their presentation of the FluidMotion Water Roller, an affordable, 25-gallon water roller that addresses the problem of water scarcity in developing nations.

Second place winner Kevin Wang was awarded $2,000 for Gravity Game Studio, software for creating video games and applications from scratch with no programming required.

Third place winner Kevin Baker received $1,000 for Ventures to Vultures, an entrepreneurial card game that exercises creativity and quick thinking.

Cash awards are generously provided by the Cherry Family Foundation to support the efforts of young entrepreneurs through the TALENT program.

These students also competed:

Dane Christianson and Ruchi Aggarwal for CeraFilter, a ceramic water filter
Shawn Jain for Cloud Car Computing, bringing the Internet on-board
Kirthi Banothu for Curriculitos, a web portal for inquiry-based STEM teaching and learning
Mosab Elagha and Ethan Gordon for GhostLink, family server technology
Daniel Park, Erik Luo and Emil Khabiboulline for IMSA Radio, online broadcasting
Derrick Miller for Iron-Fist Detection Suite, server security for individuals
Henry Deng for Nanowire Network Sensors, hydrogen sensors
Emil Khabiboulline for Pusher Punch, an integrated three-hole binder and paper punch
Upashruti Agrawal for BabelTalk, speech-to-speech mobile application
Summer Wu for TrueHeart, fair-trade chocolate distribution

We also wish to acknowledge our contest judges who liberally gave of their time to evaluate the student pitches, thereby supporting IMSA in its mission to develop entrepreneurs:

Moises Goldman, President of M and L Acquisitions
Stacy Ratner, Founder of Open Books Ltd. and serial entrepreneur
Lance Pressl, President of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Foundation
Jacob Plummer (IMSA 1996), Associate with Hyde Park Angels
Maliha Mustafa (IMSA 2000), Investment banking and entrepreneur

Preparing Your Elevator Pitch

Crafting your pitch: Homework for Monday, Feb 14, 8 pm TV Pit

An elevator pitch is a one to two minute introduction commonly given to an investor that describes your new venture. At the Feb 7th Monday Night Live session we viewed and dissected several elevator pitches. The main points of such a short pitch include:

The pain point

Your solution

How your solution works

Why people will buy it

Some numbers to hook the investor

There's not a lot of time to pack all this in, but it can be done.

Here are a few examples to learn from:

Anatomy of an Elevator Pitch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tq0tan49rmc

CEO of Evernote (52 seconds!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmNks09GZ3s

Unsuccessful Pitch (Dragon's Den): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDczbpIO85g

Successful Pitch (Shark Tank): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ8vt9LpYDw


You can watch other episodes of Dragon's Den or Shark Tank to pick up more tips.

Come prepared with a 1-2 minute pitch for your business. The session starts at 8 PM in the TV Pit. Jim and Carl won't be there, but the student board has promised to lead the session. Give your pitches to one another. Give your pitch several times. This will be incredible help as you prepare for Power Pitch on Feb 28.

Jacob Plummer at TALENT

We had a very good turn-out last night for Jacob Plummer, IMSA Class of 96 and an associate with Hyde Park Angels. He presented pitching a business from the investor's point of view. This is very close to what will happen on Feb 28 at Power Pitch.

His presentation is found in the Doc Library of this project.

Register for Power Pitch

Applications for Power Pitch must be received before Feb. 1, 2011.  The online form is active through Jan. 31, 2011.

registration is closed

22 different individuals have applied with 17 proposals

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